Alexander Hamilton was born on the 11th January 1755, an American politician, military commander and economist, among many other important roles he played during his lifetime. Most notably, he was one of the United States Founding Fathers, promoting the US Constitution and creating the financial system, for which he is still revered for today.
Hamilton was orphaned at a very young age and after being taken in, was educated in New York before being involved in the American War of Independence, later becoming a senior advisor to George Washington. After the war, he was the Secretary of the Treasury, creating economic policy, establishing central banks, tariffs and also, positive trade relations with Great Britain.
Hamilton continued to be involved in Politics, as well as continue his law career, helping Jefferson to win the presidential elections against candidate Burr. As part of his legal activities, he was prominent in ending the legality of the worldwide slave trade. Sadly, his dislike for Burr proved to be his downfall and after campaigning against Burr in the New York governor, he was challenged to a duel, in which Hamilton was shot and died from his wounds in 1804.
A brilliant economist and politician, his efforts are credited with laying the foundations of the American governance and financial systems today.
1. Men give me credit for some genius. All the genius I have lies in this; when I have a subject in hand, I study it profoundly. Day and night it is before me. My mind becomes pervaded with it. Then the effort that I have made is what people are pleased to call the fruit of genius. It is the fruit of labor and thought.
2. Those who stand for nothing fall for everything.
3. Give all the power to the many, they will oppress the few. Give all the power to the few, they will oppress the many.
4. The constitution shall never be construed…to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.
5. A well adjusted person is one who makes the same mistake twice without getting nervous.
6. The art of reading is to skip judiciously.
7. I never expect a perfect work from an imperfect man.
8. A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one.
9. There are seasons in every country when noise and impudence pass current for worth; and in popular commotions especially, the clamors of interested and factious men are often mistaken for patriotism.
10. Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.
11. Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of man will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.
12. The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the Hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.
13. It has been frequently remarked, that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country to decide, by their conduct and example, the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not, of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend, for their political constitutions, on accident and force.
14. On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.
15. Hard words are very rarely useful. Real firmness is good for every thing. Strut is good for nothing.
16. I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be.
17. Those then, who resist a confirmation of public order, are the true Artificers of monarchy—not that this is the intention of the generality of them. Yet it would not be difficult to lay the finger upon some of their party who may justly be suspected. When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits—despotic in his ordinary demeanour—known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty—when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day—It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may “ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.
18. When occasions present themselves in which the interests of the people are at variance with their inclinations, it is the duty of the persons whom they have appointed to be the guardians of those interests to withstand the temporary delusion in order to give them time and opportunity for more cool and sedate reflection. Instances might be cited in which a conduct of this kind has saved the people from very fatal consequences of their own mistakes, and has procured lasting monuments of their gratitude to the men who had courage and magnanimity enough to serve them at the peril of their displeasure.
19. Men are reasoning rather than reasonable animals.
20. The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed.
21. A powerful, victorious ally is yet another name for master.
22. Who talks most about freedom and equality? Is it not those who hold the bill of rights in one hand and a whip for affrighted slaves in the other?
23. For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.
24. If we must have an enemy at the head of government, let it be one whom we can oppose, and for whom we are not responsible.
25. Here, sir, the people govern; here they act by their immediate representatives.
26. The truth unquestionably is, that the only path to a subversion of the republican system of the Country is, by flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion, and bring on civil commotion.
27. It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood;
28. The inquiry constantly is what will please, not what will benefit the people. In such a government there can be nothing but temporary expedient, fickleness, and folly.
29. To all general purposes we have uniformly been one people each individual citizen everywhere enjoying the same national rights, privileges, and protection.
30. Divide et impera must be the motto of every nation that either hates or fears us.
31. Let us recollect that peace or war will not always be left to our option; that however moderate or unambitious we may be, we cannot count upon the moderation, or hope to extinguish the ambition of others.
32. Have we not already seen enough of the fallacy and extravagance of those idle theories which have amused us with promises of an exemption from the imperfections, weaknesses and evils incident to society in every shape?
33. If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people, whose creature it is, must appeal to the standard they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify.
34. A strong body makes the mind strong… I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind.
35. When avarice takes the lead in a state, it is commonly the forerunner of its fall.
36. Of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics the greatest number have begun their career, by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing Demagogues, and ending Tyrants.
37. By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.
38. There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty, that makes human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism
39. The great and radical vice in the construction of the existing Confederation is in the principle of LEGISLATION for STATES or GOVERNMENTS, in their CORPORATE or COLLECTIVE CAPACITIES, and as contradistinguished from the INDIVIDUALS of which they consist.
40. Caution and investigation are a necessary armor against error and imposition.
41. I always feel how necessary you are to me. But when you are absent, I become still more sensible of it and look around in vain for that satisfaction which you alone can bestow.
42. A dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people, than under the forbidding appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of Government.
43. To judge from the conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their opinions, and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives.
44. Constitutions should consist only of general provisions; the reason is that they must necessarily be permanent, and that they cannot calculate for the possible change of things
45. Nature of war to increase the executive at the expense of the legislative authority.
46. Every man the least conversant in Roman story, knows how often that republic was obliged to take refuge in the absolute power of a single man, under the formidable title of Dictator, as well against the intrigues of ambitious individuals who aspired to the tyranny, and the seditions of whole classes of the community whose conduct threatened the existence of all government, as against the invasions of external enemies who menaced the conquest and destruction of Rome.
47. You sh⟨ould⟩ not have taken advantage of my sensibility to ste⟨al⟩ into my affections without my consent. But as you have done it and as we are generally indulgent to those we love, I shall not scruple to pardon the fraud you have committed, on condition that for my sake, if not for your own, you will always continue to merit the partiality, which you have so artfully instilled into ⟨me⟩.
48. So numerous indeed and so powerful are the causes which serve to give a false bias to the judgment, that we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first magnitude to society. This circumstance, if duly attended to, would furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever so much persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy.
49. An enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency of government will be stigmatized, as the offspring of a temper fond of despotic power, and hostile to the principles of liberty.
50. If the sword of oppression be permitted to lop off one limb without opposition, reiterated strokes will soon dismember the whole body.
51. Is it not the glory of the people of America, that, whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience?
52. The kindred blood which flows in the veins of American citizens, the mingled blood which they have shed in defense of their sacred rights, consecrate their Union, and excite horror at the idea of their becoming aliens, rivals, enemies.
53. The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and, however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true to fact. The people are turbulent and changing, they seldom judge or determine right.
54. A national debt, if it is not excessive, will be to us a national blessing.
55. Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct.
56. Experience is the oracle of truth; and where its responses are unequivocal, they ought to be conclusive and sacred.
57. All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. the first are the rich and well-born, the other the mass of the people
58. No man ought certainly to be a judge in his own cause, or in any cause in respect to which he has the least interest or bias.
59. But this is a thing more ardently to be wished than seriously to be expected.
60. Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people.